Kick-Your-Cold Savory Pumpkin Risotto

January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

I first learned how to make risotto from my college Italian professor.  She was from northern Italy, near Milan, I think.  One night, she had the whole class over to her house to learn to make risotto (and converse in Italian, duh).  When it was my turn to stir the pot, she said to me, “Only stir in one direction.  Keep stirring.”  By the time came for us to eat, my arm was about to fall off from stirring so much.  Since the events of that night, I have forgotten much of my Italian vocabulary, however, the proper way to make risotto has stuck with me through the years.

Though we made a simple butternut squash risotto that night, I have since been adding anything and everything into risotto.  Tuna, cheese, asparagus, tomatoes, peas, more cheese, wine, cream, you name it, it can probably hang out in a risotto.  That’s the best part about risotto: once you know the basics, it’s infinitely adaptable.

The inspiration for this particular risotto came from my friend Anne, who had a cold and requested a quiet lunch at home.  I brought some pumpkiny-ness over and we had a good midday meal.  After lunch Anne was feeling a good bit better, so I dubbed this risotto the cure for the common cold.  Someone can go ahead and call those Nobel folks.  I’ll be waiting.

Adapted from

Make this bit first:

1 1/4 C pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

3/4 C water

1 Tbsp Ancho chile powder

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp Chinese Five-Spice

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp black pepper

Put the stove on medium.  Put a sauce pan on the stove.  Put all of these things in the sauce pan.  Stir to combine.  Let it bubble gloopily for a couple minutes, but keep stirring.  Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.

Now for the risotto base:

1 medium onion, diced

1 large clove garlic, diced

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 C Arborio rice

5-6 C chicken stock (or 2 C white wine + 3 C chicken stock, depending on how much you love booze)

Put the chicken stock in a small saucepan, with the heat on low.  Get out a bigger pan for the risotto.  I like to use a large skillet with tall, straight sides.  A dutch oven could work here, too.

Add the butter and olive oil to the empty pan, with the heat on medium.  Melt them together.  Add the onion and cook it until it is slightly translucent.  Add the garlic.  Stir.  Add in the Arborio rice.  Stir, making sure all the rice gets coated in the oil/butter, and until there is a white patch in the center of each grain, with the ends being translucent.  Ladle in some chicken stock.  Stir.  Stir.  Stir.  Stir.  The rice should be absorbing all of the chicken stock goodness.  Do not add all of the stock at once!  It is important to the texture of the dish that the liquid be absorbed slowly, so that the starches on the rice grains can come out and play.  Keep adding, stirring, and absorbing for about 25 minutes, til the rice is al dente.

Remember that pumpkiny-ness from earlier?  Dump it into the risotto.  Keep stirring.  Let it gloopily simmer while you stir for another few minutes, until it has reached your preferred consistency.

Turn off the heat.  Serve it to your friends.  You can even get a little crazy and put a bit of parmesean cheese on top.

This makes enough for four really hungry people or six kind of hungry people.


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